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The soothing sound of water

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Finally the weather has arrived - those lovely sunny days where we can sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour. The garden furniture is out, parasols are up and the barbecue is lit.

The weeding is done, the grass is cut and the pots are watered. Bored much? Well, if you are like me, and need something to do – especially when the weather is fine - how about a water feature? The sound of water is well-known to be relaxing, so maybe that will be the key to finally sitting down and reading a book!

Apart from its calming qualities, water in the garden is important from an ecological point. You will notice the biodiversity in your garden grow as soon as you add water, and it is uncanny how quickly dragonflies find it! Water features do not need to be a particularly work intensive project, it can be anything from a plastic barrel to a large natural pond. I have seen some beautiful plastic barrels with a floating pot with waterlillies inside it and a floating solar light – small but effective. You can also buy a huge range of ready to use, easy to install water features – you literally fill them up with a few litres of water, plug them in and the job is done.

Alternatively, you can build your own pond, which is quite a straightforward project. Decide on a spot and start digging out your pond – the size will depend on you, the depth should always be at least 40cm. If you wish to grow water lilies, you will need to go a bit deeper. Lining a pond can be done with EPDM rubber if you want to shape it yourself. An old carpet or some insulation underneath will protect the liner from tearing on stones.

A layer of sand will do the trick. There are also preformed liners available which are very practical and easy to install. They are usually stepped which allows you to put in different water plants at the edges. These are definitely the quickest and easiest options. To maintain clarity of water, and to prevent algal growth, it is vital to aerate the water.

The simplest way to do this, without the use of a filtration system, is to create running water. Pumps are readily available and relatively cheap. The smallest usually start at about €40. Pumps are sold in two ways, by the amount of water they pump per hour, and by the lift they give.

A pump which pumps at 450L per hour will usually give a lift of one metre to the water – so you can install a small fountain. Pumps then go up in size, depending on what you need. I have a small pump in my pond, set at half the speed, which circles my water up and around the pond to the opposite, rising gradually to give a fall over stones of about 30cm. This creates a small amount of movement within the pond so that it does not stagnate, it oxygenates as it flows over the stones and it creates that soothing sound of water gently splashing back into the pond. An effort well worth making!

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What to look out for when viewing second hand homes

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY After spending so long saving for a mortgage and filling in countless application forms, you are now ready to begin your house hunting in earnest. Set yourself a budget and have a look to see what is available in your desired locations within that budget. Viewing appointments can […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

After spending so long saving for a mortgage and filling in countless application forms, you are now ready to begin your house hunting in earnest.

Set yourself a budget and have a look to see what is available in your desired locations within that budget.
Viewing appointments can be arranged via a telephone call or a simple email to the selling agent. When making the appointment make it clear that the mortgage is in place and you are ‘ready to go’.

This week we will deal with viewing second hand homes and what to look out for on that first property viewing.

When you arrive at a house, you’ll get a general feel outside of how well it’s been maintained. Arrive early and study the exterior of the property before going in, and have a glance at neighbouring properties. This will help you to get your bearings before continuing with the viewing.

If viewing an older house, a musty smell is the first red flag for signs of damp. Also be wary of the smell of fresh paint; was this done to simply freshen the property up or what is it covering up? Is paintwork bubbling or flaking?

Take note of any wall cracking; hairline cracks in walls and ceilings are generally fine, but if you can spot a crack from the other side of the room, then it’s probably big enough to be concerned about.

In older houses, take a good look at windows and roofs. Window frames can slope downward if there are poor ground conditions underneath, and the roof of the house can sag in too.

Is there room to extend? If you are lucky enough that there is have a look for external manhole covers; it gives a good indication of the drainage and pipe layout which may complicate a future extension.

Don’t be afraid to ask the nosy questions; why is the house for sale? How long has it been on the market? How long have the current owners resided there? Has the house been rented out frequently? How many times has it changed hands in the last decade? Have there been any refurbishments? Has it been rewired/replumbed? Who are the neighbours? What is included in the selling price?

It is a good idea to take photos (with the agents consent) or videos as this will help you remember the property after you have returned home.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for more time. Spend as much time as you think you need to and don’t hesitate to request a second viewing.

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Bus to Belfast to stay on the road

A Kerry TD has today (Monday) welcomed the news that the Bus to Belfast is to stay on the road. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said assurances from the Department of Health that The Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NI PHS), which has been in effective operation since January 1 this year, will remain in place until […]

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A Kerry TD has today (Monday) welcomed the news that the Bus to Belfast is to stay on the road.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said assurances from the Department of Health that The Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NI PHS), which has been in effective operation since January 1 this year, will remain in place until a new a statutory scheme is put in place.

The Kerry deputy avails of this service for his constituents on a regular basis and said many were concerned that the scheme may come to an end due to Brexit.

“What this will mean to so many of my constituents is that they can continue to avail of this scheme for treatments for cataract removals by travelling from Kerry by bus to Belfast so that they can get treated in a timely manner and get back to living their lives in a healthy manner,” Deputy Healy-Rae said.

“I am delighted that the Government has seen the good sense to help continue this scheme and I’m delighted that the pressure of representation that I have brought to this scheme will see it continue.”

The Scheme was first introduced to mitigate the loss of access to care from private providers in Northern Ireland under the EU Cross Border Directive, which ceased to apply as a result of Brexit. However, the Government intends to place the administrative NI PHS on a statutory basis and an extensive examination of options to inform the drafting of a General Scheme is currently underway with confirmation that the administrative scheme will remain until such time that a statutory scheme is in place.

Patients also continue to have access to health services under the EU Cross Border Directive Scheme in all other remaining EU/EEA countries.

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